Dewi's Trains,
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Baker Street Station

Comments/corrections to: Dewi Williams


This happened a couple of winters ago, in Baker St. station, London.

It was cold on the platform: not the clear crisp cold of an Ottawa winter, but the clammy chill of London in February. We'd been out in the suburbs visiting relatives, and now we were waiting for a late subway train to take us to our hotel. The cold was affecting everybody: they stood in clumps on the platform, very subdued and quiet. On the suburban train, our car had been taken over by a crowd of youths, very boisterous boys. But now, even they were affected by the malaise. Once upon a time, this had been our home turf: now it seemed strange and foreign.

Suddenly, there was a clip-clop sound, and a wee Scotsman came down the steps to the platform opposite. We assumed he was a Scotsman because of his kilt. He wore a flat cap and carried a coat and an enormous carpet bag. The boys perked up and started making fun of him, pointing to his knobbly knees and big nose. He took it for while and then turned, raised his voice and shouted "Ah'll fix yu", then marched up the steps, across the bridge and down to the platform on our side. He flung his cap to the ground, dropped his coat and marched right up to the biggest boy, who, confused, stepped back.

Then the Scot opened the bag and pulled out a set of bagpipes. He got them settled, puffed, and then slammed his elbow into the air-bag with such force that a blast of sound echoed around the station. The other passengers turned sharply. He started playing Scottish airs and dances. One of the boys seemed to know a few steps because he started dancing, very tentatively, but he gained some confidence. Pretty soon people were clapping, and talking among themselves and to other groups.

When the train eventually arrived, the whole station seemed to have warmed up several degrees; the cold no longer chilled everyone to the bone, and some people were even smiling!

Copyright : Dewi Williams July 1996


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